Super Bowl XLVI Gameday Diary Part III

Part I – Madison Weekend Diary here.

Part II – Super Bowl Party gluttony here.

Quick takeaways:

  • In close football games, there are usually two or three plays that make the difference in the game. Pretty obviously, the Welker drop and the Manningham catch stand out as a study in contrasts. If Welker catches the ball he dropped, the outcome of the game is almost certainly reversed. Brady could have made a better throw but that was a ball that absolutely needs to be caught by a receiver of Welker’s caliber. He’ll be seeing it in his sleep for months if not years.
  • The fumble luck inherent in the Giants’ recovering Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw cough-ups also played a major role in the final outcome. This does not mean that the Giants were lucky to win but these were lucky breaks on plays that could have had disastrous ramifications if the ball bounced just a little bit differently.
  • The biggest deciding broad factor in the game was the difference between the two teams’ pass rushes. With the three-headed monster of Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora (is it a good or bad thing that I can spell that right without looking it up?), and Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants can get pressure on the quarterback without having to blitz linebackers or defensive backs. This means an extra man or two drops back in coverage while the quarterback has to simultaneously adjust his internal clock and get rid of the ball quickly. The pass rush threat even impacts plays where the quarterback has time; against most teams, Brady takes an extra split second to set his feet and make a better throw than the one Welker dropped. Eli Manning consistently had significantly more time to throw than Tom Brady and this especially determined the fourth quarter.
  • The second biggest broad factor was the Gronkowski injury. There’s no way he gets beaten on a jump ball by a defensive lineman (or is covered deep by one) if he is anywhere NEAR 100%. A huge competitive advantage that the Patriots had all season with Gronkowski is that he is too fast to be covered by linebackers and too big to be covered by defensive backs. At full strength, you really need two guys to stop him and this would have been a neutralizing factor to the Giants’ pass rush as their extra man in coverage would usually have had to be on him. When Gronkowski’s speed is taken away, though, you can cover him with just size.
  • The Patriots are going to be kicking themselves all winter and beyond. They had the ball with 17-12 and 17-15 leads in the fourth quarter and failed to add points. Give the Giants all the credit in the world for taking this game but, like the Packers and 49ers, the Patriots and their fans will forever be consumed with what could have happened if the team had showed up in optimal form in Super Bowl XLVI. As I’m still haunted by memories of the Giants-Packers NFC Championship Game in early 2008 despite the Packers’ having won a Super Bowl, the pain from this game will hurt the Patriots forever. Especially when compounded with their brutal loss the last time they played the Giants in the Super Bowl. Ouch.
  • It’s truly shocking that a team that looked as bad as the Giants did in two losses against the Redskins (who went 3-11 against everyone else this season) and a home embarrassment to the Seahawks can play as well as the Giants have in the last five weeks and win a Super Bowl. Quite head-scratching and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand how their intra-season variance could have been so high.
  • Eli Manning’s got to be considered an elite quarterback now. I’d rank him just a smidgen behind Brady and Rodgers, on par with Drew Brees, and slightly ahead of Ben Roethlisberger in the top-5 hierarchy. His poise, leadership, and precision in the fourth quarters of these games are now trends, not anomalies. He’s even improved his body language a lot bit. I’d still hold off on saying he should be considered for the Hall of Fame but his upside potential on any given Sunday can now firmly be categorized as terrifying.
  • Already can’t wait till next football season. I don’t exactly want to wish the next seven months of my life away but I probably wouldn’t mind if they went as fast and smoothly as the past seven months have gone.

2 Responses to Super Bowl XLVI Gameday Diary Part III

  1. aattarw says:

    Two more statistical years like this one and Eli’s a Hall of Famer no question. The Giants’ intra-season variance can be somewhat accounted for by strength of schedule (they played the toughest slate in the NFL this year), the only bad team they lost to was the Redskins (Seattle was actually pretty good). They’ll be healthier next season which means no more Aaron Ross and they’ll likely get some help on the O-line and at linebacker so they look pretty good moving forward.

    Part of the thing that went unsaid before this game was that the Pats came in severely overrated having played the easiest schedule in the league and really struggling against every winning team they played. Different outcome if Gronkowski is healthy though, I think.

  2. Frankie Weisburgh says:

    Bradshaw’s sitdown touchdown was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in any game, football, tennis, or tiddly winks.

    What about the catch that Nicks (sp?) didn’t make because he got bumped into and the ref didn’t see it…. Not funny, but coulda been a game changer.

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